ICRC visits 2 soldiers detained in Ukraine

Pascal Cuttat
Pascal Cuttat

Head of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC)’s regional delegation for the Russian Federation, Belarus, Moldova and Ukraine, Pascal Cuttat (C-L), answers journalists, in this August 16, 2014 file photo, at the Donetsk – Izvarino border crossing.

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) said on Wednesday that it had visited two men captured in eastern Ukraine at the weekend who are now in hospital in Kiev.

Ukraine on Monday showed a video online of two prisoners it said were Russian soldiers who had killed Ukrainian troops in fighting in its east and said they would be prosecuted for “terrorist acts.” Russia denies active military backing for pro-Russian separatist forces in Ukraine.

“A team from the ICRC which included a doctor has this afternoon visited the two men captured near Schastiye in the Lugansk region on 17th May and then transferred to Kiev,” ICRC spokeswoman Jennifer Tobias told Reuters. “The aim of the visit was to assess their condition and help them establish and maintain contact with their families.”

Meanwhile, a senior Ukrainian defense official said Wednesday that Ukraine is open to considering proposals to place a ballistic missile-defense system on its territory to ward off the risk of attacks from Russia. So far no one has offered.

Oleksandr Turchynov, the head of Ukraine’s National Security Council, told Ukrinform news agency in an interview that Russia has become an increased threat since annexing the Black Sea peninsula of Crimea and increasing its military presence there.

Russian news agencies cited Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov as saying Wednesday that the deployment of a missile-defense system in Ukraine would force Russia to adopt countermeasures.

Ukraine has repeatedly raised alarms about what it sees as Russia’s aggressive military posture. It says Moscow has actively supplied separatists in east Ukraine with arms and manpower and that it routinely bolsters offensive capabilities in western Russia.

President Petro Poroshenko’s government is concerned that Russia is making concerted efforts to move its nuclear capabilities to Crimea, which was absorbed by Moscow in 2014 following a referendum almost universally rejected by the international community.

“That the annexation of Crimea has significantly increased Russia’s military capabilities and changed its balance of military power in the Black Sea and Mediterranean is understood by all our partners,” Turchynov said. “But nobody goes beyond issuing statements and expressing deep concern.”

“Ten Iskander-M tactical missile systems have already been delivered to the peninsula near the village of Shcholkine and Krasnoperekopsk,” Turchynov told Ukrinform.

Russian Defense Ministry officials have also said they will deploy long-range, nuclear-capable Tu-22M3 bombers to Crimea.


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